Friday, January 28, 2011

Blackberry Crumb Bar

I know I should be posting this recipe in Spring or Summer but what can I say, temptation got the better of me.  So, I was at Costco the other day and I picked up a big pack of fresh blackberries and there was definitely more than my daughter could eat in a day or two.  I mean it is only so much she could eat before the freshness of the fruit was lost.  You see, I was tempted to buy, but only my daughter enjoys eating them fresh so much in this family.  Therefore, with the plenty left over I could make this delicious crumble which was on my 'to-do list.' for a while. Perfect !

  Just like the Martha Stewart site says, this bar is a marriage between the Cobbler and the Cake.The cakey bottom, merry-berry middle and crumbly, crunchy top layer are all there in this Blackberry Crumble Bar. The best part is that you can use berries of your choice.

My kids are usually not big on cobbler and fruit cake but they absolutely loved this.  The gang has already placed requests for more.  Do I need to compel you any more? I doubt it!

Blackberry Crumb Bar

Are you seeing all the three layers here?

Blackberry Crumb Bar

It is soooo yumm !

Blackberry Crumb Bar


For the Top layer:

Melted butter- 6 Tbsp
Packed Brown sugar- 1/2 cup
Salt- 1/4 tsp
All Purpose Flour- 1 cup

For the lower layer:

All Purpose Flour- 3/4 cup
Baking Powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Butter,at room temp- 1/2 cup
Eggs- 2
Confectioner's sugar- 1 cup
Pure Vanilla Extract- 1/2 tsp

Fresh Blackberries- ~10oz


1.Wash and dry the berries on a paper towel.Preheat the oven at 350 degree F.Line a 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, with an overhang on both sides.Grease and flour the paper.
2.Mix the things for the top layer using a fork till everything becomes crumbly.Big crumbles will give you a continuous layer, whereas smaller crumbles will give you the texture I got ;-) Keep in the refrigerator till ready to use.
3.In another mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt for making the bottom layer.
4.In a medium mixing bowl,beat the butter,vanilla and confectioner's sugar and beat till it is creamy.
5.Add eggs one at a time and beat well to mix everything.
6.Mix in the flour and mix again at slow speed.
7.Now spread this mixture evenly on the prepared baking pan.
8.Sprinkle the berries on it.
9.Finally spoon out the crumble mixture whihc was kept chilled on the top, evenly
10.Bake for about 40-45 minutes till a skewer comes out clean and the top turns light brown in color.
11.Cool in the pan and take out with the help of paper hang.Cut into squares.
12.Store in airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature and for a week in refrigerator.

Blackberry Crumb Bar


1.You could replace the confectioner's sugar with granulated sugar.For 1 cup confectioner's sugar you need to use 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp cornstarch.
2.Makes about 16 bars.

Sending this and Kappa/Tapioca Biryani to Smitha's event Best food I have eaten or blogged about

Contributor: Namitha
Recipe Courtesy:Martha Stewart

TGIF! Salad, Roasted Asparagus and Cottage Pie

   Ahem! It's been a long while.  I have been apartment huntung in the new place we are moving to and it has  not been easy.  To add to the chaos, I was out, for a week, with influenza.  Hmmm! Yeah, a lots been going on.

  Now I am sitting here watching the snow white garden in our friends Indiana apartment, and this weekend will move to our new place in Illinois, very close to CHICAGO.  So, we are with friends and to say I had a good time except for the cold will be an understatement.  I feel a lot younger because most of the activities resemble the kind I had during my college times.  Cooking together with friends, eating out and general banter and pulling each others leg. We have been busy, enjoying ourselves, which could be the reason house hunting was such a trial task!

  Getting back to what you might be more interested in listening to, here is what we had on a Friday.  A foodies haven.  We have had a lot of Indian food the last couple of weeks, but I just didn't take any photos, a shame indeed.  However, will share some other fun stuff we cooked and ate and I hope you will enjoy.

Green Salad

We served up some green salad to begin, dressed up with a simple vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil and white vinegar, equal portions.  Seasoned it with a clove of garlic finely chopped, two shallots chopped and a generous sprinkle of oregano.  Add all the ingredients and salt , shake it up well and pour over the salad before serving.

 To make grilled or baked asparagus start by cleaning and snipping off the hard ends of the asparagus.  Dry off and put them in a zip lock bag and pour extra virgin olive oil, black pepper and salt and shake well.  Marinate this for about 1/2 hour and then either grill, bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes to 15 minutes or until soft.


Cottage Pie cooked in red wine and seasoned with thyme and rosemary. Yum!  Follow the method here but change the seasoning to a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme, finely chopped garlic about 1 Tbsp, red wine vinegar 1/2 cup and paparika and black pepper to taste.  Do not forget to add beef broth to keep the pie moist.

Cottage Pie

Moist beef with a rich and creamy potato top.  Don't forget to enjoy.

Contributor: Sunitha

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mixed Veggies Thoran

   Today, I have a simple recipe of a 'thoran' for you.  As you can see I got a little excited about the photography even though this is a simple recipe, then again, isn't presentation vital in cooking?   A good time to make recipes like this is when you don't have enough of one vegetable but have an assorted little of many.  Really, thats what I did! Mixed up this and that to make a thoran and I really loved this combination. 

Have fun!

Mixed veggiesThoran

Did you like the broccoli tree with carrot flowers? My kids did ;-)

Mixed veggiesThoran

A great way to use up the leftover veggies in your fridge

Mixed veggiesThoran


Broccoli Florets,cut into small- 1/2 cup
Carrots grated- 1/4 cup
Beans ,chopped finely- 1/4 cup
Cabbage ,chopped finely- 1/4 cup
Coconut Grated- 1/3 cup
Green Chillies- 3-4
Turmeric Powder- a pinch
Salt- To taste

For seasoning:

Shallots, chopped finely- 2-3
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Dried Red chillies- 2-3
Curry Leaves- 1 sprig
Oil- 2 tsp


1.Make all the veggies ready for thoran, by cutting them like I've mentioned above.
2.It's up to you whether to grate or cut the broccoli florets.
3. Grind(not much-maybe for a couple of seconds) coconut and green chillies together. If you do not have a grinder/small bowl for your mixer grinder, leave this step and just add more green chillies slit into halves.
4.Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds followed by rice.
5.Add sliced shallots and saute it till golden brown.
6.To this add red chillies and curry leaves and saute .
7.Add the Broccoli and beans along with, turmeric, salt and coconut mix from step 3 and add into the pan.
8.Mix everything together and cover the pan.Add a couple of spoon full of water.
9.Cook on medium flame for about 5-6 minute.Open and stir everything well.Add the carrots and cabbage now. Continue cooking till all the veggies are cooked, but still a bit crunchy
10.Open the pan and cook till the thoran is free of any water by stirring in between.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kappa/Tapioca Biryani-Ellu Kappa,Kanjirappally Style

Can I say snow is falling like cats and dogs? Well, maybe it’s not the right usage of the phrase but you get the ideal. Therefore, am I wrong to be feeling lethargic? I think not, and I know you agree ;) It has been snowing and the mercury levels continue to drop.

I made this biryani a couple of weeks back, and was lucky enough to save a bowl full to take photographs. Once you taste this dish you will know why photographing it before the bowl is emptied is a challenge, believe me! It's so yum! My mouth is watering and running over just thinking about it. All this is if you like Tapioca. If you do, you will definitely fall in love.. This is a hot selling dish in "thattukada"/roadside dhabas these days. If you have seen the "No reservations"(featuring Kerala) by Anthony Bourdain, then you probably got to see this dish.

Tapioca/Kappa Biryani

It is just wonderful even without any side dishes:-)

Tapioca/Kappa Biryani

For Kappa/Tapioca:

Tapioca/kappa- 1 kg or 2 lbs
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to Tatste
Grated coconut-1/2 cup
Green Chillies- 2-3
Shallots- 2
Curry Leaves- 1 sprig

For Chicken/Meat Gravy:

Chicken/Meat of your choice,with bones- 1/2 kg / 1 lbs
Onion chopped finely- ~3 cups
Ginger paste- 1 Tbsp
Garlic paste - 1 1/2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Turmeric- a big pinch
Red chilli powder- 2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 Tbsp
Meat Masala- 2 tsp(a mixture of 5-6 black pepper corns, a small cinnamon stick, 2-3 cloves and one cardamom)
Curry Leaves- 1 sprig

For Tapioca/Kappa:

1.Peel off the skin from Tapioca and clean and cut it coarsely to get medium sized pieces.
2.Boil water, enough to cover the tapioca in a deep pan.Once it starts boil add the chopped tapioca pieces and cook with salt and a pinch of turmeric until it is done. The time varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes once it starts boiling,depending on the variety of tapioca you use.So keep checking in between.
3.Meanwhile grind the coconut, chillies,turmeric and shallots coarsely.
4.Drain all the water once tapioca is cooked.
5.Throw in the ground ingredients and salt and mix well.Mash the tapioca pieces well while mixing.
6.Cover and cook on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes or until steam starts coming.

For Chicken/Meat:

1.Heat oil in a pan and saute the onions till they start to turn brown.
2.Throw in the ginger garlic and saute till the raw smell leaves.
3.Add the spice powders and saute for a couple of minutes.
4.Add the curry leaves and the chicken/meat pieces and mix well till the meat is coated with the masala.
5.Cook on low heat till the chicken/meat is done.The time depends on the meat you use.If you are using any meat other than chicken, you could do this process in a cooker and let 3 whistles come before you switch off the heat.

6.Mix this chicken/meat masala with the tapioca and serve warm.

Tapioca/Kappa Biryani


1.Traditionally we use the beef that is near to the bones for making this and the dish is called "Ellu kappa", which is literally translated to "bones n Tapioca".
2.To get that authentic taste, use the meat with bones and use coconut oil while cooking the meat.
3.You could add more chillies.I used less for the kids at home ;-)
4.You could serve a raita or mulaku chammanthi, if you need more spice.
5.You may want to start with cooking your meat first, since that takes longer time than tapioca.
6.Serves 3-4

Contributor: Namitha

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chips Muffin

It’s freezing here! I need no excuse to bake, but when it gets cold like this, there truly is a need to bake. The warmth of the kitchen that smells of vanilla, chocolate and fruits is an irresistible combination.

Also, my daughter has been pressing me to keep some of my promises. I keep telling her I will bake this or that, and she never fails to remind me every so often. Therefore, here I am keeping some promises, enjoying the warmth and aroma of baking goodies, and telling you this is the way to go.

Ghiradelli chocolate chips, the king in this recipe. I have fallen head over heels yet again.

You don’t need an excuse to bake these, they are the excuse themselves.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

I used some Ghiradelli chocolate chips this time.Oh boy ! they are really good :-)

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Believe me, kids will just love this!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin


Flour- 1 1/2 cup
Baking powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Baking soda- a pinch
Cinnamon- 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg powdered- 1/8 tsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Banana- 1 big mashed
Egg- 1
Milk- 3/4 cup
Vegetable Oil- 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar- scant1/2 cup
Chocolate chips- ~1 cup
Nuts, chopped (optional- 1/4 cup


1.Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon powder.
2.Preheat the oven at 375 degree F and line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease well.
3.Using a hand blender mix together the sugar ,oil,egg,milk and mashed banana.
4.Mix in the flour mixture .
5.Fold in the chocolate chips and the nuts.
6.Fill the muffin pan 3/4th and bake for ~18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7.Cool on a wire rack.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin

Contributor: Namitha

Monday, January 10, 2011

Aval Varattiyathu/ Beaten rice cooked with coconut and jaggery

How are you all? We have been erratic updating this site - being busy myself, and Sunitha moving to a new city.  Nevertheless, since blogging is a lot of fun for me, I wanted to share something that I made a while ago.  It’s a familiar food for most South Indians, and for me it is yet another food that brings back fond memories.  Nostalgia! 

Desserts after a main course is common but after a breakfast? Well, sure why not! Every breakfast party in Hindu-households in Kerala has one. Story of our culture: Every celebration in a family spans over a week even if there are no religious rituals to perform or ceremonies to conduct. You ask why? It is because we invite family and friends over who will stay over even if space is crammed and the noise can wake up the dead.

So then, if there are so many people then there must be a lot of women too right? Yes, and when women in the days got together what to they do? But of course, cook! Like all mothers, they will hang out in the kitchen and cook for the neighborhood. Cooking itself becomes a celebration.  To add to it being a vacation they treat every meal to become special. How they make all this happen?  On top of a carbohydrate rich idli breakfast they will serve beaten rice mixed with jaggery, spiced with ginger, all of it toggled together with a generous portion of sweet, toasted, aromatic coconut.  This aval varattiyathu smells like the food fit for gods.

  Aval Varattiyathu!  Serve it after a spicy breakfast of idli and sambar and the children who hate idli can skip the main course and relish the second.  For creating such an awesome recipe is why we love our mothers as much. My granny and mom continue to make heaps of this and store away for  weeks.  The family snacks on it with evening tea too.

Aval Varattiyathu

A bite of nuts in between is awesome !

Aval Varattiyathu

If you like jaggery and beaten rice, you must try this ;-)

Aval Varattiyathu


Jaggery- 200g/ 1cup grated
Aval/Poha/beaten rice- 2 cups
Coconut, grated-2 cups
Cardamom Powdered- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds-2 tsp
ginger powder- 1/4 tsp
Roasted pottukadala/kadalapparippu(optional)-3 Tbsp
Cashews(optional)- 3 Tbsp


1.Melt the jaggery after adding a couple of spoons of water and boiling it.Sieve out any dirt and continue to boil till it reaches one thread consistency.
2.Add the grated coconut and mix well. Continue to stir till all the water is absorbed from the coconut.(this step is crucial if you are planning to store your "varattiyathu" for a while.
3.Now add the aval and the spices and mix well. Also you could add the casgews and the kadalapparippu at this time(if you are adding any)
4.Switch off the heat and let it cool completely before you store this in an airtight container.
5.Serve with plantain or as it is.


1.If the jaggery is more, sprinkle a spoon or two of granulated sugar and mix well. This will make it get dried faster.
2.If you wash the aval before using, let it dry completely before making this.

Contributor: Namitha

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Melting Moments

  Happy New Year everyone!! Hope you all had a wonderful start to the New Year.  We were at a nice party with friends on New Year’s Eve.

  I cannot believe it’s already 2011.  Where did 2010 go? I was just getting used to writing the date with a ’10, and now I have to start writing it as ‘11. With time flying, the kids seem to be growing up quickly too, every day, every moment. Lil imp is 2 1/2 and he is the funniest ever. Now, he understands everything we say and knows the difference between 'I' and 'you' very well.  (He used to have trouble getting 'I' and 'you,' for example he would say “you are hungry” when he means he is hungry.)  He hates "time outs" and hates my high pitched voice.  The other day I was raising my voice to convince him of something and he told me "amma, time out!"  I just stood there wondering if I should laugh or keep the angry face till I got my way.  Kids! What do we do with them, what do we do without them!  Another year has been granted to figure out the puzzles of life and I welcome it with a grateful heart.

  Happy New Year again and may you have sweet melting moments!

Melting Moments Cookies

It was snowing outside and seems like my kitchen too ;)

Melting Moments Cookies

These just melt in your mouth, just like the name suggests ;-)

Melting Moments Cookies

Happy New Year to you all !!

Melting Moments Cookies


All Purpose Flour- 1 1/2 cup
Cornstarch- 1/2 cup
Salt- a pinch
Confectioner's sugar- 1/3 cup
Unsalted Butter- 1 cup
Pure Vanilla Extract- 1 tsp

For dusting:

3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar


1.Whisk together the flour, corn starch and salt in a mixing bowl.
2.Beat the butter and sugar until it is creamy.
3.Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
4.Add the flour mixture and beat well to mix everything.
5.Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or until it is firm.
6.Preheat the oven at 350 degree F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
7.Make 1 inch balls out of the dough and place them on the prepared cookie sheets, an inch apart.
8.bake for about 12 minutes or until the sides start to brown.
9.Cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes.
10.Meanwhile line a baking sheet with parchemnt paper and sprinkle confectioner's sugar over it.Place the cookies on the paper and sprinkle more sugar through a sieve, on the top.
11.Cool them completely before storing.

Recipe Adapted From: Joy of baking
Contributor: Namitha